Angela Merkel told German Jewish leaders her government is ready for tougher sanctions against Iran.
The German chancellor, who received the Jewish community’s Leo Baeck Prize Tuesday in Berlin, called the award an honor and a reminder of her responsibilities as chancellor.
Her three main tasks, Merkel said, were to combat xenophobia and anti-Semitism in Germany and abroad; to work with the Jewish community to support the growth of Jewish life in Germany; and to stand up for Israel’s right to exist within secure boundaries.
“I am aware that given the particular threat to Israel of an Iranian nuclear program, these words [of support] must not be empty words,” she said. “They have to be followed by deeds, and my government is following its words with deeds.”
Merkel said she and her European counterparts were working on “a diplomatic solution, and that also means that Germany is definitively prepared for sharper sanctions against Iran.”
Presenting the award Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, described Merkel – the 50th recipient of the award – as a “dependable partner of Israel in politically difficult times.”
The Central Council represents the 120,000 members of the German Jewish community.